We’re back with another Small Business Spotlight! This week we’re shining a light on a Emily Rozwadowski, co-owner of Spencer & Rozwadowski, LLP, law firm. The firm’s duo divides up client needs as Spencer handles real estate transactions and Rozwadowski handles estate planning. In this interview Emily discusess why an estate plan is so important for all families, regardless of financial status and what the process is like. Welcome, Emily!
Hi Emily! Please introduce yourself.
My name is Emily Rozwadowski. I am originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and after living in Chicago for 15 years, my husband and I moved to Highland Park in 2016. We have two boys, Julian, age 12 and Aaron, age 10.
Please introduce your legal business. Please tell our audience what you specialize in, how long you’ve been established and what your title is.
I own the law firm of Spencer & Rozwadowski, LLP. My partner, Connie Spencer, handles real estate transactions and I practice exclusively in estate planning. Estate planning means that I help individuals and families establish their wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. These documents allow my clients to state to whom, and under what circumstances, their assets will pass upon death. They also allow my clients to name guardians for minor children and, possibly allow their heirs to avoid probate court. We have owned the firm for 12 years.
Why did you choose to go into Estate Planning with your training?
After working in medium sized firms for several years, I had my first child. When he was born, I knew I needed a career that offered more flexibility and less stress. Estate planning, which was a part of the practice the firm I worked for previously conducted, offered a way for me to help people and stay away from the adversarial side of the law. It is an area of the law that does not involve going to court or scheduling things with opposing attorneys. It is an area of the law that allows me to focus on helping individuals and families. Therefore, I can easily manage my own schedule. Additionally, as I started practicing in the area, I realized that I love it because it allows me to help people and solve their problems. It is a softer side of the law, which I believe I excel at. I love listening to what my client’s concerns are and then crafting a solution in their estate planning documents.
How long does it typically take to complete an estate plan?
It really depends on the client! If the client knows what he or she wants, I can turn around the documents quickly. However, some clients need more time to answer the questions I need to know. For example, I need to know who the client wants as a guardian for their children, who will oversee their children’s finances, and who will make health care decisions for them if they are incapacitated. If the clients know the names of who they want in these important positions, I can work quickly. But, I can also give my clients the time they need to make these important decisions.
What was the inspiration behind forming your own business as opposed to working for someone?
I really wanted to grow my practice at my own pace. When I started, I had a baby and my husband and I knew we would have more kids. I wanted to be able to slow down and ramp up the business according to my personal timeline. I didn’t want to be beholden to anyone other than my clients. As my children have grown older, I find that I still love being available for them after school and in the evening. I love being my own boss!
What are two reasons why an estate plan is so important for all families?
The first reason is that it gives a family piece of mind that if something terrible were to happen, their children would be taken care of both financially and practically. Putting together an estate plan, allows families to take at least this one concern off their plate. Then, they can focus on something more fun!
The second reason is the importance of health care powers of attorney. It is so important to have someone named to make decisions for you if you are incapacitated. This does not necessarily only mean when the situation is life or death. This can also mean making decisions if you are hospitalized for a short term.
How are you dealing with the work/life balance? Any advice for future entrepreneurs out there?
It’s hard! But it is important to know when not to answer the phone and when not to check email. When my kids get home from school, I turn off my email notifications and I stop answering my phone. After they are settled, I can then check my email, but I can do it on my terms and in my own time frame.
What’s on the horizon for you?
I want to continue to grow my business and travel! Now that our children are older, we have found travelling with them to be so much fun. We hope to continue to do that in the future.
Who would you like to thank for making the formation of your business possible and why?
First, my husband. When I was a new mom and was ready for a big career change, he was so supportive. He never pressured me to do more than I was willing to do, and he recognizes the value I bring to our household.
Second, my business partner. Connie gave me the courage to take the leap into our own practice. And she is always open to listen to me and provide insight. I am constantly grateful for our business partnership and her friendship.